Monday, June 27, 2005
Raggle Taggle Gypsies O!
Well here we are again, back from Welsh Wales and then the Banbury Steam Fair. My small cloud is still following me around - so much so that one of our friends has done me a "car sticker"
with an Eeyore on it - I am feeling less depressed and the struggle uphill is getting easier. We drove round Cardiff and I was amazed to see how different it has become - very up market and trendy - especially round the old dock area - we then drove up the Rhonnda Valley - past villages with names evoking memories - Tonypandy and Abervan and up into the Brecon Beacons - all the places of my youth and soldiering - clambering over one "Pen Y" something and going on to another - its much easier in Big Ange - saw the last deep colliery in Wales - brought back memories of other collieries in Yorkshire and the Moner's strike - we won't go there as looking at it from a 25 year gap I come more and more to the c0nclusion that we were wrong - being used as an instrument of "The Government" instead of an instrument of Government - Maggie's Bootboys infact ! - However, Banbury steam fair was fun - and I saw a genuine BSA Scout sports car in the classic car parade - so for you doubters if my pictures have come out and I can figure how to get it on to the computer (I seem to have lost the connecting lead somewhere !!) I will put a photo on the blog wet and 'orrible on the Friday night - saw the floods at Glstonbury on the TV - not quite that bad at Bloxham but wellie weather - now just waiting on Occupational Health and the Sleep Clinic
better than last time
Thursday, June 16, 2005
The Doctor still thinks I'm mad as a fish so has signed me off until I go into the sleep clinic. At this point I'm feeling better in myself but still only sleeping for an hour at a time and waking up gasping. The big difference is that I can become semi-comatose during the day for longish periods so eventually I do get enough sleep to make me feel almost human again. Have decided to go and sit in a field again for a couple of weeks. Tomorrow (Friday) we pack up Big Ange, hook up the van and all things being equal head for the home of the mole wrench again ! Jolly Newport - Caravan Club site at Tredegar House - looks nice from the big green book - will stay there next week then come up country for the Bloxham Steam Fair. Met Fred Dibnah there a couple of years ago - pity he died - he was a nice man with time for everyone and a kind word for all. Fame did not change him and he was pleased to be "recognised" The world is a poorer place without his earthy humour and his passion for steam engines. Being a Maidenhead lad and an "Old Maid" (County Boy's School) I also knew John "Flash" Carter - He was a friend of my best friend's brother - Every year I would come back and find he had acquired more bits of steam machinery - He used to run the Knowle Hill Steam rally (in Scary Duck Country) Another good man gone ! I'm glad to see Anna and his son still running the show - they were on TV the other night - bought back memories of Don Allan and Flash building awful old cars in the garden
Don (my best mate Richard's brother) had a BSA Scout - a really rare sports car with semi auto box which they were forever in the process of re-building. Don went on to be a high flyer with IBM and Flash went on to get one of the really great steam calliopes ! - funny old world
Anyway off again for a couple of weeks - no lap top so no blog - Any comments want replies e mail me or Ill get back when I get back ?? does that make sense
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Reading the latest Scaryduck post about new words reminded me of when I took the Queen's Shilling and joined HM Forces (Yes folks in those far off days of pounds shillings and pence when you took the oath you were given a small New Testament (I wonder if the gave Jewish chaps an old testament???) and a shiney new Shilling - which you obviously kept for ever as a memento of this great occasion (I should Co Co - went down me neck as half of Brakespears)) - I digress - On arrival at the depot after the usual shouting, screaming and jumping up and down (the recruits before getting off the lorries) - It was a long journey and some needed the loo quite badly we were taken to a huge hanger and ran the gauntlet of a long line of men behind a chest high counter, each of whom piled another item on top of the already wobbly heap you were carrying. You were then shivvied on to the next who did the same - shouts of "Mugs, one pint, china, one for the use of", and "tunics, number two dress, two for the use of" rang down the line and woe betide any poor sod who dropped something - reminded me of a particularly sadistic game of Crackerjack!! - Suitably laden like perambulating garbage heaps (you've all seen the films - and believe me in 1963 it was just like the films - we all lived in black and white and it was intentionally as hard and as cruel as possible) Remember just 2 years before these same sadistic bastards were dealing with National Service squaddies who had no choice - They conveniently forgot were were "The new all Volunteer, professional Army"and in their own peculiar way with their own stacato and highly specialised language, fists, boots and naked aggression turned the average weedy, mothers boys into hardened brutal licentious soldiery.
Which brings me back to the somewhat convoluted point. After kit issue, which you stuffed into a large metal locker, and not being daft and also having seen some of the films, if you were sensible you locked with a padlock you had brought with you from home (the issue ones could be undone with a nail or if you wanted to re-use it there were only 12 locks so in a platoon of 36 at least three of you were likely to have the same padlock keys) You were then run (we ran everywhere for the next 20 weeks) to another large hanger like building were you were issued with bedding - "sheets, cotton, single, two for the use of" etc rang through the air- right down to the last man who stood behind the a huge pile of bent wire- and as you went past him at a steady 12 mph shouted, "extend little finger of left hand", and hung 6 coat hangers on to i, and then shouted "COAT HANGERS , six for the use of" The significance of this remark did not sink in until some time later - when you had arrived back at the barrack room and were given the long list of kit that you had been issued and (if you had carefully locked it up probably still had) if not - no chance I remember one poor guy who was issued with "Two brushes, boot" who had never seen them and never would again (they were carefully hidden inside my second pair of "Boots DMS, size eleven small" just in case ! Setting up the locker was a work of art. Each piece of clothing and equipment had to be immaculate, folded, pressed and placed -"Just so" for inspection right down to the "Coats great, infantry pattern, one for the use of" hanging in the locker - all hanging on their COAT HANGERS. This still did not sink in. It was only after the process was completed and we were almost hairy arsed, licentious and brutal soldiery and ready to be let loose on an unsuspecting regular battalion - where we found out we still had much to learn - We reported in and were issued, at a much slower and relaxed pace - bedding etc
I then asked the Quartermaster's clerk about the nomenclature and sure enough when looking down the ledgers everything was broken down into "Mugs, one pint china, or Mugs half pint plastic right the way down to small bent wire objects which were COAT HANGERS. He had been in the army since 1958 (signed on after national service) and had never noticed that this was the only piece of equipment that had its own name,the right way round. I suppose the explanation is that the only thing you can do with it is hang coats on it so there is only one !! - Now there is a really useless piece of information for you.
slowly climbing back into the saddle
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Onwards and Upwards
One of the things that has happened since I fell off me perch and have spent a lot of the time sitting about in fields, is that I have thought a lot about the past and have written a few ideas down for future blogs. As I thought when I first started blogging I would try and emulate Scary and others in that I would re-live silly things from my long and varied past. Having spent twelve years seving her Majesty as a soldier, and then over twenty years in the Police and (up to now at least) as a Civilian in a Police Control Room, I have seen and done many stupid and in retrospect ,probably funny things. At least they amused me. Like the time we were banished from El Adem Air Base in Libya. We had come in from a six week trip into the boonies. We had drunk no alcohol for this period and had considerable thirsts (throat drier than an Arab camel driver's flip flop). We stormed the bar - unfortunately the RAF were sending some families home and it was full of Crab Air types say goodbye to their loved ones. After the first few pints - several not hitting the sides on the way down we degenerated into the usual squaddie pastimes of "Dam Busters" (trying to drop coins clenched in the buttocks into a pint glass) and the dance of the flaming A****** holes (clenching lighted news papers between the naked buttocks)
Zulu Warrier etc (reading this its weird how buttock fixated we appeared to be in those days!!!)
Enter the Canteen Cowboy (duty NCO) - Exit the Canteen Cowboy (his hat pulled firmly down over his eyes) Cue the Lady Bar manager -
"Follow me outside boys, I've lit the Barbie and we can sit out under the stars and eat and drink in comfort"
Six weeks in the Ulu - not only no beer but no females either. Cue raging male hormones
Gulible or what - outside we troop - Its very dark when the sun goes down in Libya
Slam, slam ,slam ,slam . We appear to be on our own in the desert (again !) The crabs had locked the doors of the NAAFI. It sinks in that we are not going to get back in - and to make matters worse when we stagger back to our camp area we find that the Canteen Cowboy has arrived before us and upshot being we are "Banned from the Club" for the remainder of our stay.
Luckily it was only three days !! Daft as brushes we were. I wonder why they have closed most of the Police Clubs now ???
Feeling a bit better
Monday, June 13, 2005
Sitting in the middle of a field
Back from Cornwall on Sunday night - In keeping with my current mood (small rain cloud following me round) the much vaunted air suspension on "Big Ange" the Range Rover went tits up half way down (just before Sedgemoor Services )- the warning lights came on and with a sinking feeling the body slowly collapsed onto the wheels - limped in to the caravan park and rang the forth emergency service ! - They turned up at about 0130 and loaded us, the dogs, and "Ange" on to the lorry - hitched up the van and took us all the way to Looe ! We were dropped outsided the gates of the Caravan site, I re-hitched the caravan and slowly scraped our way on site - not seeing the large wheely bin ! - - Another large dent in van and wheely bin rubbish everywhere ! All this at 0430 in morning ! Rang every garage in bloody Cornwall - spoke to the home garage in Cheltenham and they said that it could be anything from a 20p fuze to a £4000 compressor - cheered me up no end! - Eventually the Main dealer in Plymouth said they could try and have a look on the next Friday (this being Monday I was thrilled !) Sat about in the field all week as could not go anywhere - The weather was diabolical so watched rain (not just over me for a change) listened to my IPOD a lot and read lots of books Re-read the complete Fritz Leiber Lankmar series (Ffhad and Grey Mouser) - On the Friday - went - very slowly to the dealer in Plymouth (good old satnav - I get lost going to work most days) Sat about for a couple of hours - Service dept plugged it in to the Computer and low and behold a sensor not working - suspension re-set and away - no parts and a bill for an hour's work (£60!) (for plugging it in to computer- reading results and re-setting software) still, can't complain could have been the £4000 compressor ! After being mobile again we managed to drive round the county a bit and being addicted to ferries for some reason - went over the torpoint ferry into plymouth and over the Fowey ferry several times - We really now need to win the Lottery and go and live in a little village called Polruan - got a harbour like most (Mousehole, Port Isaac etc) but not at all touristy - two small pubs and hills like High Wycombe. Very quiet and a great place to sit on the harbour wall and look - several locals seemed interested in the small rain cloud over me but said tha it rained a lot in Cornwall anyway ! True to form the weather got really hot and nice on the weekend we were coming home - Still have the problem with the overheating, although I am now sure that it is to do the the fan not cutting in at the right time - the temperature guage was like the rev counter - as it got really hot I could here the fan cut in with a thump and the guage went back down - Anyway home now and Doctor tomorrow, Occupational Health next week and the Sleep Clinic first week in July - Depressed - me ? Yep ! still raining on me head - but not so bad as before - and would be ok except for some B***d turning the light off at the end of the tunnel